Holistically transform your New Year’s resolutions into reality
By Army Lt. Col. Julianna Jayne, Registered Dietitian, PhD, RDN, CHES, Defense Centers for Public Health – Aberdeen,
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – In the New Year, attention often turns to resolutions, especially those centered around nutrition and weight management. Many people leverage their New Year’s energy to set ambitious goals around health and wellness. The Department of Defense’s Total Force Fitness framework encompasses eight dimensions of fitness to encourage a holistic approach to optimize health, performance and readiness.
Two of the Total Force Fitness dimensions, nutrition and physical fitness, are often the focus in the New Year. Setting sustainable and realistic New Year's resolutions around nutritional and physical fitness can help service members and their families make goals a reality.
Nutritional fitness is one of the central dimensions of the Total Force Fitness framework, due to the impact of nutrition on individual health and group performance. Well-rounded nutritional habits, such as mindful eating, can also be helpful for weight management.
A tenet of mindful eating is identifying motivations for eating as well as listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. This not only involves being conscious of what foods are consumed but also appreciating the textures, flavors, and meaning around meals to foster a more harmonious relationship with food. In studies of military personnel, behaviors that are opposite to mindful eating, such as emotional eating, eating fast, or distracted eating, have been linked to a higher body weight.
The Uniformed Services University Consortium for Health and Military Performance has a Human Performance Resources by CHAMP, or HPRC, website that offers scenario-based resources to help you learn more about mindful eating, slowing down, and being more thoughtful about food choice. This information may assist you in making that New Year’s weight management resolution a reality.
Be (more) physically active
Resolutions around weight management often involve goals around physical activity. The physical fitness dimension of health is a key factor in avoiding injury, being ready for duty, being recreationally active, and maintaining a healthy body weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the major benefits of getting 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity per week include lower risks of chronic disease, including obesity.
Service members may have physical activity incorporated into their duty day, but many adults find it hard to fit long exercise sessions into a busy day. Being more active, even through short periods of moderate-intensity activity, can have health benefits such as increased endurance and metabolic rate. Additional activity opportunities like walking the dog or taking the stairs can also be part of increasing physical activity for weight management. Whether you are starting a new exercise routine, getting back into one, or maintaining an active lifestyle, the New Year brings an opportunity to focus on more physical activity.
Tailor nutrition plans and fitness goals
Nutritional and physical fitness intersect at the Armed Forces Wellness Centers where services such as a health assessment review can guide individual nutrition and fitness goals-setting. AFWC appointments include a review of current health habits, analysis of risk factors, exploration of personal health/wellness goals, and identification of barriers to establishing more consistent habits. Other programs include stress management and wellness coaching – all helpful for turning resolutions into reality. AFWCs can be found on many installations and are available to all service members, their families, retirees and DOD civilians.
Plan for success
Planning is key to making resolutions around nutritional and physical fitness a reality. Conscientiously crafted resolutions that are realistic and sustainable are far more likely to succeed, particularly when they are specific enough to produce measurable results over time. The HPRC offers weight management resources such as the “Get into Fighting Weight: A Total Force Fitness Guide,” which contains five challenges and specific tasks designed to help you assess your habits, guide meal planning, improve fitness and sleep, and manage stress; videos are available for each challenge. Additional goal-setting resources, along with strategies for accomplishing health and performance goals are resources that align with the Total Force Fitness framework. Behaviors around nutritional and physical fitness such as well-balanced diets, sustainable weight management strategies, and sound fitness habits can help service members and their families be well-nourished and fit for the year ahead.
The Defense Health Agency supports our Nation by improving health and building readiness–making extraordinary experiences ordinary and exceptional outcomes routine.
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